If anyone still doubts whether British society is broken, they should read the reports of the Centre for Social Justice. When we consider family breakdown, educational failure, economic dependence, indebtedness and addictions, the human and financial cost of decades of top-down bureaucratic control becomes heart-breaking. And let’s not forget that, these days, the poor pay tax to support the very services which fail them.
The sheer scale and quality of the work of the Centre shines through their reports and there can be no doubt that those on the centre right have the best interests of the poorest in our country close to their hearts. As Iain Duncan Smith writes:
Our interim report Breakdown Britain charted the extent of the problem in extensive detail. Britain tops the ‘league tables’ when it comes to spiraling levels of drug addiction, single parenting, poor education and debt. Many people told us that the quality of their communities had deteriorated, maintaining that the crime levels were much higher than those reported to the police. The recent rise in gang warfare, which resulted in a spate of teenage stabbings and shootings in our cities, is a savage illustration of the deep fractures in so many of our inner city communities. A recent UNICEF Report concluded that we have the lowest levels of child well being in Europe. A further report has shown how young people in Britain are more likely to be unemployed and out of education than in almost any other country in Europe.
IDS names some of the inspirational people who have personally set out to serve their fellows, and goes on:
These inspirational people showed me that things could be much better if politicians learnt from them ‘what worked’ and ‘what didn’t work’. Government action, though filled with good intentions, can often exacerbate existing problems or create new ones. I was reminded that communities need strong families to bind them together and that families were vulnerable to a society that no longer valued the institution of marriage. I was shown by them what happens when family life breaks down and when the only male role model for a boy is the drug dealer or the gang leader. I saw first hand how drug addiction is destroying families and how parental addiction is too often repeated by their children. Too many of our children are growing up in sad communities where failed education is hereditary and worklessness is a way of life.
And so the Centre sets out to provide practical policies to mend our broken society. Thankfully, the Conservatives are heading in this direction together. As David Cameron has said:
We know we have a shared responsibility; that we’re all in this together; that there is such a thing as society – it’s just not the same as the State.